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Art, retail tents evacuated due to high winds

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Karen Hiller, Topeka, Kan., carries merchandise from the retail tent to the new location in the patron tent, which can withstand winds up to 60 mph. Photo by Madeline McCullough

Volunteers, retail merchandise and art pieces were evacuated from their tents early Saturday afternoon due to high prairie winds.

The tent braces — meant to only withstand 40 mph winds — started to bend shortly after the gates opened at 1 p.m. Art tent coordinator Deb Keating said the conditions were unsafe for volunteers and the art.

“The volunteers did a great job getting out in an hour,” Keating said.

Moving trucks drove onto site and volunteers loaded the trucks with art and retail. The silent auction will be rescheduled, Keating said, and will probably take place at the Symphony in the Flint Hills office in Cottonwood Falls.

The merchandise was relocated to the patron tent for purchase.

Judy Hancock said she was disappointed that the art would not return. In previous years, Hancock had the winning bids on pieces of art from Elaine Lierly Jones, who had the winning piece at this year’s auction.

Hancock has two pieces of Jones’s hanging in her New York City law office.

“I was bound and determined to get her winning piece,” Hancock said.

— Shelby Reynolds